Mussolini was paid by Britain’s MI5, archives reveal

Benito Mussolini

Benito Mussolini

A Cambridge professor has unearthed archived documents showing that money from MI5, Britain’s counterintelligence and security agency, helped Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini lunch his political career. Dr. Peter Martland, Fellow at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, said MI5’s Rome station, which at the time was staffed by 100 British intelligence officers, paid Mussolini £100 a week (around £6,000 or $9,600 a week in today’s money) starting “from the autumn of 1917 [and] for at least a year”. The payments, which were authorized by MI5’s director in Rome, Sir Samuel Hoare (later Lord Templewood), were aimed to assist Mussolini’ newspaper, Il Popolo d’Italia, propagandize in favor of Italy’s continued fighting in World War I on the side of the Allied Powers, of which Britain was also a member. Along with promoting a pro-war message, Mussolini, who was 34 at the time, offered to use the money to fund a paramilitary squad that targeted Italian antiwar protesters. MI5’s money appears to have helped Mussolini’s entry into politics, facilitated largely through the popularity of his newspaper, and to have funded an early prototype of his fascist Blackshirt units, which terrorized Italy throughout his 1922-1943 dictatorship.

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

One Response to Mussolini was paid by Britain’s MI5, archives reveal

  1. Anonymous says:

    As far as I am aware Peter Martland has never been a Fellow at Corpus Christi College Cambridge

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